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It would be nice to be able to mark answers that are really useful reference material, i.e. that provide interesting information that is not readily available with google - probably in response to a "difficult" question.

And the UI could provide a way to view answers that have been marked in this way. Perhaps a minumum rep would be needed to do so: and to help stop gaming, moderators could vote for such marks to be removed like they currently vote for questions to be closed.

Marking answers as such does not necessarily need to give rep to the answerer - though possibly the increased visibility of such answers will make them attract more upvotes.

It would make the site more interesting - I would like to be able to choose a subject using tags, and browse what others consider to be interesting information - more fun than yet another question answer on the IDisposable pattern in .NET

UPDATE

Isn't that the purpose of votes?

Not at all. A cursory look at StackOverflow shows a poor correlation between number of votes and the usefulness of an answer as reference material. Votes are tied to rep so often gamed, and in any case, they are more related to how well the question was answered rather than how "interesting" it is.

You're walking into subjective territory here...

Definitely. Which is why probably some minimum rep ought to be needed to do this, why a moderator should be able to override it, and why it probably shouldn't attract any rep.

My point is I'd find it interesting to browse what other people I respect consider to be useful reference material. Perhaps another way to do this would be to allow users to mark answers as a "favorite" in the same way questions can be marked today. And we could then browse the answers that, say, Jon Skeet has marked as favorites. An answer may be useful by virtue of going beyond what was asked in the question, so that marking a question as a favorite is not necessarily appropriate.

What's really useful to a .net beginner might not be at all useful to a .net expert.

Absolutely. I would not expect answers to beginner questions to be marked in this way if the information is readily available (e.g. on MSDN for .NET stuff).

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This is done on Meta using the FAQ tag. Maybe moderators could do the same for canonical questions and answers on SO? –  Robert Harvey May 20 '10 at 16:51
    
possible duplicate of Topic/Tag Specific FAQ Pages and Create a tag homepage/FAQ –  Ether May 20 '10 at 19:56
    
possible duplicate of "Topic/Tag Specific FAQ Pages" - actually I'm thinking more of tagging good answers to infrequently asked questions. –  Joe May 20 '10 at 20:18

2 Answers 2

Isn't that the purpose of votes? The tooltip for answer upvotes even states "This answer is useful". Very good resources will get a lot of upvotes by virtue of their usefulness, and you can use utilities like the Advanced Search to look for all posts with a minimum votes, or Data Explorer as another alternative. I think votes serve well enough for this purpose, another method seems just highly unnecessary.

EDIT

Your edit brings up a slightly different proposal than what your initial statement sounded like. Being able to favorite answers, really, could be a nice touch. Especially when the answer goes enough beyond the question that you can't remember which question you favorited that had it.

One personal issue, though.

Which is why probably some minimum rep ought to be needed to do this, why a moderator should be able to override it [...] My point is I'd find it interesting to browse what other people I respect consider to be useful reference material.

These two feel a bit exclusive in their accomplishment. With no reputation attached to it, this kind of application has the same kind of impact that favoriting a question does, which mechanically on the system is none. I don't see why this should be limitted to only high reputation users, especially if my interest is in what other people find to be a useful resource. Moreover, a moderator should not have any say in what another user thinks is useful. That would be equivalent to giving moderators the ability to retract other people's votes and favorites. Taking that out and leaving the concept of favoriting answers, I think this is actually a useful idea.

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"Your edit brings up a slightly different proposal" - yes, I'm throwing out ideas rather than coming up with a well-thought-through proposal. " I don't see why this should be limitted to only high reputation users" - I agree that wouldn't make sense for the "favorite answer" idea. That suggestion was more related to the original idea of a "consensus" of what constitutes "interesting" –  Joe May 20 '10 at 17:59
    
@Joe I apologize if that first sentence seemed malicious, it was meant more of an analytical statement. There's nothing wrong with using community feedback to reshape a feature request to something magnificent. –  Grace Note May 20 '10 at 18:15

Anything posted on SO is readily available on Google. I've searched for answers to really obscure programming questions in the past and the best results are usually questions and answers on SO.

You're walking into subjective territory here, people might argue over what constitutes a really useful answer. What's really useful to a .net beginner might not be at all useful to a .net expert.

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